Space may be the final frontier, but in Jonathan Liebesman’s high-powered Battle: Los Angeles the Milky Way’s most violent denizens are making the trip to our planet — and they’d like to claim it as their own. Michael Peña, star of Crash and Observe and Report, plays a civilian pulled into the military’s explosive battle against marauding space invaders. We started our discussion by my asking if he thought there was intelligent life out there.
Q: So do you believe aliens exist?
A: You know, I don’t follow any of that, but it would be pretty insane for me to think that there isn’t any other kind of living organisms in the entire galaxy. It’s just so huge. There has to be other kinds of suns out there. There can be different types of water or H2O on other planets. For us to think that life only exists on our planet — that’s just too insane. Maybe they might not look like us. They might be further along or even prehistoric. Who knows? It would be interesting to see where all of this research leads.
Q: If aliens actually did decide to colonize our planet, what would you do with your final hours here on the Earth?
A: [Laughs] I mean, c’mon, dude. That’s pretty self-explanatory. What
do people love to do the most, right?
Q: I don’t know, Michael. Are we trying to keep this discussion
A: [Laughs] Okay, to keep it clean, I guess I’d go golfing, have dinner
with a lady friend, and call it a life. Or I’d probably spend it with
family, to be honest with you. Have a couple of prayers and wish
Q: You’re defending Los Angeles from an alien invasion in the movie,
but it really isn’t L.A. at all, right?
A: No, we shot in Shreveport, Louisiana, for three months, and then we
went to Baton Rouge for exteriors.
Q: So you ate really well.
A: Oh, I ate too well in Louisiana. They have fried alligator and
fried frog legs and all of that stuff. A lot of French food that sounds
nasty but is actually really good.
Q: Because you tend to play servicemen onscreen — from police
officers and soldiers to mall cops — I was surprised to learn you weren’t
a military member in Battle.
A: Yeah, and that’s something I kind of liked. I don’t know if I was
totally stoked on playing another Army person. It has been a while now
since I did that, so I might jump toward that now if it were offered to
Q: Instead, you’re playing a civilian in the film, a father protecting
his onscreen son. Did the fact that you recently became a father help
inform your character’s decisions?
A: Yes. I don’t know if you have any children, but the unconditional
love that you have for them — you would do anything to save their life
if they were in trouble. And that instinct definitely gets
strengthened. To love somebody more than you love yourself and to really
be willing to go above and beyond to make sure that they are safe — that
instinct definitely took over and led to my motivation for the entire
Q: Your director is taking on the Clash of the Titans
sequel. Any chance you will join him?
A: No, I don’t think so. I think they are going to be shooting it
soon, and I didn’t get any phone calls about it. I do think it would be
kind of cool to do something like that, though.
Q: You’ve actually been in more comedies, from Observe and
Report to HBO’s Eastbound & Down.
A: You know, Observe and Report was the first comedic thing
that I did, and I moved from that to Eastbound and 30 Minutes
or Less, which Ben Stiller produced. He’s also doing a movie with
Brett Ratner called Tower Heist, and they hired me for that after
I auditioned. I’m definitely riding the wave, trying to learn as much
as I can about comedy, how to make it funny but still keep the context
of the scene. But it feels like I am a kid in this particular style or
genre. But what’s so good about it is that if I do a bunch of comedies I’m
yearning to do a drama and vice versa. I did Battle: Los Angeles,
then 30 Minutes or Less, followed by a small part in The
Lincoln Lawyer, followed by Tower Heist. It was drama,
comedy, drama, comedy. But it’s really just good to be working.